Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

Listmania 2012: Things We Hated

As pop culture aficionados, your friends at Culture Blues are not immune to the end-of-year lists currently overwhelming the internet. We just like to wait until the entire year is over before we post anything, in case something cool happens around the holidays (also, we're lazy). Welcome to Listmania, where Culture Blues ranks our favorite shit in a handful categories.

Of course, it can't all be "Best this..." and "Greatest that..." Before we get into our happier lists, we're going to talk some shit about the stuff that most annoyed us in 2012.

(10) A lack of jobs for working horses

Just as Luck was beginning to hit its stride (a supporting character was brutally murdered, which is how you know an HBO series is finally out of the gate – also horse puns!), a horse died in a freak accident during production of the show’s never-to-be second season. Two horses had previously died during the shooting of Luck’s bravura racing sequences and so, faced with mounting pressure, HBO put the kibosh on David Milch’s slow-burning racetrack drama. I guess horses should have the same safe working conditions as other actors; I don’t really blame them for dying, and I wish they hadn’t (unless they were dogging it). But, how many horses die at actual tracks around the country like every day? Or on farms? Are there still farms? Anyway, wouldn’t those poor horses love to trade places with a rich actor horse that gets petted by Nick Nolte? Probably. (Jeff Hart)

(9) Replacement Refs

Like millions of Americans, I was watching Monday Night Football when the NFL replacement officials took the Green Bay Packers out behind CenturyLink field and brutally robbed and beat them (metaphorically). With one incredibly botched call, Lance Easley and Derrick Rhone-Dunn stripped America’s beloved game of its integrity, simultaneously ending the national nightmare that were the replacement refs. To be fair, it wasn’t the fault of the replacement refs that they were there; it was really the greed of billionaire owners who made their game suffer for the first few weeks of the season. Maybe we can find a way to get replacement owners next year? (Giovanny Caquias)

(8) Office building security breaches in The Newsroom and Amazing Spider-Man

I’m not a stickler for realism in every facet of entertainment, largely because in most cases I don't really know where the line between "unlikely" and "flat-out unrealistic" really is. Could Brody and Carrie really get away with all their shenanigans on Homeland? I sure hope not, but I don’t know much about the inner workings of the CIA. I do, however, know what it takes to get into an office building in modern-day Manhattan. Allison Pill’s roommate surprising Jim by showing by up on ACN’s newsroom floor for their New Year’s Eve party strains credulity. Someone who works there has to put you on a list, and considering the high-profile of that floor and the event, they probably need to walk you past security. Peter Parker impersonating a new intern at a high-tech laboratory by glancing at the IDs that have been left out in plain sight and simply repeating some poor sap’s name, however, completely tears credulity apart with razor-sharp lizard claws. There’s just no way these kids don’t have to prove to someone who they are before getting handed credentials! These are small grievances in projects with much larger problems, but based on my own life experiences, these little shortcuts really irked me. (Jeremiah White)

(7) Oh, The Newsroom in general too

Oh, Newsroom, how I hate-watch thee. Ten interminably dull episodes of Aaron Sorkin playing Monday morning quarterback on the hottest news stories of three years ago, his crack team of dedicated newshounds getting it right more often than those so-called “journalists” of the real world (thanks for breaking the Deepwater Horizon and not declaring Gabby Giffords dead, guys). Week after week extolling the intellectual virtues of 15 year-old upper-class liberals (as long as they work in news, not fashion), while Jeff Daniels’ mythological sensible conservative plays tough-but-fair father figure. And wait, did I mention ladies crying? Sorkin’s got that covered; all of the female cast members sprung leaks at least once in this first season, sometimes because of love triangles, and always in the office in front of their more competent male colleagues. The only good thing to come from this show – aside from the hard-ons popped by HBO subscribers whose political beliefs were at last confirmed by something other than viral Facebook graphics – was this parody Twitter account. We just decided to suck. Can’t wait for next season!  (Jeff Hart)

(6) Bath Salt Zombies

Somewhere in the summer of 2012 the world lost its collective mind with a bath salt-related zombie-apocalypse scare, which somehow never included me... and I’m a very paranoid and gullible person. You guys remember this, don’t you? There was a bizarre string of incidents wherein people would get high on bath salts and try to bite each other's faces off. It was nuts, but what was more insane was how you (yes, you) and your friends spent untold hours on Facebook conjuring memes and posting bogus articles, which tried to fan the flames of an actual coming zombie apocalypse. For shame. (Giovanny Caquias)

(5) Walter White

I wrote a whole article over the summer about how much I’ve started hating Walter White, so this is really just an excuse to drop a link to that. You should read it! TLDR version: Walter has basically become irredeemable. Constant manipulation of Jesse, his megalomaniacal family life, and kid killing – it was a tough season to root for the once-meek school teacher. And that article was written before he’d killed Mike, which was seriously the worst! At least Walter felt bad about that one, so bad that it might’ve caused an epiphany. He finally left the meth game, abdicating the throne of Albuquerque, and returned to normal life cancer-free and filthy rich. Now, he’s about to get busted because Hank likes to read while pooping. Is redemption coming for Walt, or will he still be on my hate list next year? (Jeff Hart)

(4) StorySync

Speaking of Breaking Bad, AMC’s second screen experience seems downright counterproductive. Shouldn’t you guys be trying to keep my eyes on the screen, not directing me to gadgets that can access ever-increasing amounts of information and entertainment? I already look at my iPad and phone when I watch television… when I’m bored. TV execs should be worried when I reach for my gadgets, not nudging them towards me. I’d be more open-minded if the content transcended the fact that it’s a shameless attempt to double count eyeballs (look at all those ads!), but the Breaking Bad offerings are clearly next to worthless. I get that the suits are worried about DVR and Hulu, and this sort of interactivity and immediacy is going to be a part of the TV business model going forward, but shouldn’t the goal be to make shows that people want to watch, think about and interact with for days and weeks after, rather than things we’re simply willing to react to in the moment? I know Vince Gilligan isn’t scratching his head over what scene would be a good backdrop for this Walt Jr. poll, but it’s still a relationship that bothers me. Now get off my lawn. (Jeremiah White)

(3) Madonna

Because I read about music extensively and write about it on a weekly basis, I was forced to confront the idiotic and unnecessary things Madonna did all throughout 2012. Whether it be co-opting the drug-culture of a new generation that isn’t interested in her (“Has anyone out there seen Molly?”), using extensive gun violence during her floor show despite requests from local municipalities which endured firearm tragedies, engaging in feuds with anyone who indulged her, or comparing the aforementioned floor show to Hamlet, this old lady was downright intolerable this past year. (Giovanny Caquias)

(2) Interstellar orgy creating Aliens

Prometheus is visually stunning and features a memorable performance from Michael Fassbender, but man is it a slog through heaps of boring Alien universe mythology that I’m pretty sure no one was asking for. Could even the most diehard Ripley fanboys be interested in the half-baked genesis story that serves as Prometheus’s climax? So the godlike Phil Dalhausser aliens developed some kind of biological weapon that turned out to be a face-hugger and then some people get alien-raped and… tada, it’s the backstory for a 30 year old franchise that nobody wanted! Prometheus eschews logic and character for mythology that doesn’t even pass the smell test, proving once again the high esteem Hollywood has for genre nerds: thanks for your money, have fun writing theories on your message boards, see ya again in four summers. (Jeff Hart)

(1) Andy Bernard

It isn’t Ed Helms’ fault how badly The Office has languished under his stewardship. It was already in dire straits before he took over; the show was shaky even during the final days of Michael Scott, and completely went off the rails around the time of Will Ferrell’s head trauma. And yet, I keep watching, out of some misguided sense of loyalty, or habit, or nostalgia. I want to see how it all ends! Will they finally explain why they’re making this documentary? (Probably not!) Anyway, Andy Bernard and his inconsistent, baffling characterization is a weekly reminder of just how dry the ideas well has run in The Office’s writers room. The Nard Dog was a welcome antagonist in those halcyon Stamford days, and he was pretty good during the whole anger management story arc. But then came the engagement to Angela, the amped up wasp behavior, the garden partying, the Erin road trip and subsequent abandonment, and the virtually unwatchable feud with Nellie. With the NBC comedy block I’ve followed for so long coming to an end in 2013, Bernard’s office seriously depresses me. Here’s a creative endeavor I’ve followed for like my entire 20s (my formative years), and it has just completely gone to shit. And don’t even get me started on those assholes Jim and Pam…(Jeff Hart)

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